Opinion: Items left in cars tell their story


Three days a week I drive cars for a local car auction. It’s a part-time gig that helps fill in the gap Social Security leaves behind.

It’s decent work, interesting and sometimes even fun. We pick up cars at local dealerships and drive them to the auction.

They are trade-ins mostly, sometimes repossessions. Some good. Some, not so much. Some even require a couple Hail Mary’s to insure we get where we are going.

One interesting thing is the stuff the owners leave behind. You can tell a lot about people by what you find in their cars.

In one aging pickup I found a new radiator cap, an oil filter and a new serpentine belt. The receipt for them was six months old. The owner probably meant to make repairs but couldn’t find the time. A lot of people are super busy these days.

I found a screwdriver in another car.  There was a new screw in the glove box latch. I guess the owner tightened the screw but forgot the screwdriver. He was probably busy, too.

A small can of automotive touch-up paint was on the floor of another car. I noticed a couple chips in the paint on this one. There was a box of fuses in another. Some of the electronics on the dash were out. The owner was probably too busy to get it fixed, I guess, and just replaced fuses from time to time.

Some cars have gaping holes in the dash where the radio used to be. A lot of young people install super gee whiz hot damn stereos in their cars, and then remove them when they trade. I don’t know why they don’t put the old equipment back in. Maybe they’re just too busy.

I found a lot of fast food wrappers in one car. Another busy person who ate on the fly. Another had packages from children’s toys and more food wrappers. An overworked mom, I guess, who had to feed and entertain her kids while traveling to and from work.

A lot of people leave pennies behind. Sometimes they are at the bottom of the cup holder, fused into a solid lump. No one respects pennies anymore.

The saddest car I’ve driven was an older pickup truck. It was in pretty good shape, but in the back seat I found several pairs of blue jeans, a couple of clean shirts, some socks and a pair of sneakers. There was also a loaf of bread and a package of spoiled lunchmeat.

Some people are forced to live in their cars. They are busy, but struggling. It’s usually temporary.

Still, it’s sad when the finance guys show up.

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